We’re funding RM115 mil parking project, not Penang govt, says HeiTech

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow at the launch of Penang Smart Parking at China Street Ghaut, George Town, last Sunday.

GEORGE TOWN: HeiTech Padu Berhad (HeiTech), the company behind the Penang Smart Parking project, today said it was fully funding the RM115 million job as part of a private financing initiative (PFI) as previously announced.

In an emailed statement to FMT, the company said it would manage the 36,000 bays under the smart parking project for seven years.

“We are investing in the system and bearing all operating costs for the next seven years, without receiving any capital or operating expenditure from the state or councils,” the statement read.

The chiefs of the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) had slammed HeiTech for a snag in the new parking system, which was launched on Sunday.

HeiTech’s system will see motorists being able to pay using a mobile phone app at all Penang council parking lots. Sensors installed on each bay will also enable them to check which ones were vacant.

The company was to have installed sensors in 647 council parking lots by Aug 18, the Penang government said yesterday, but to date, only 30 have been completed. All these lots are on the island.

The smart parking app is also only available on Apple’s iOS system at present, with none for Google’s Android.

In response to the sensor issue, HeiTech said the smart parking project would remain in the “pilot phase” until the end of this year and “mitigation” plans were under way to install the sensors.

“We are confident that with the mitigation plan, public feedback and strong collaboration with local councils and the state government, the Penang Smart Parking Project will meet its overall planned deadline and will be completed by July 2020,” it said.

As for the lack of an app on the Android platform, HeiTech said it was being “addressed diligently” by its team.

A motorist holding up an iPhone with the Penang Smart Parking app. The app is still not available on Android devices.

HeiTech signed a deal with the Penang government in May and was granted a 65:35 profit-sharing agreement for the first five years (35% to the councils), dropping to 60:40 in the final two years.

The company signed a five-year concession with an option to renew for another two years, for all 36,000 local council parking bays.

As per HeiTech’s Bursa announcement, the five-year agreement for MBPP runs from April 24, 2019, to April 2024, while the MPSP agreement was a full seven-year contract from May 1, 2019, to April 30, 2026.

The parking rate for the island is 80 sen an hour, while in Seberang Perai it is 40 sen an hour.

Penang Former City Councillors’ Association chairman Teoh Seang Hui said it was most disappointing that HeiTech did not meet its obligation to install the required parking sensors by Aug 18.

“It appears the company was ill-prepared to kick off the project although it was given ample time.

“The fact that the contractor could only install sensors in 30 lots instead of 647 shows the company is likely not able to operate the new parking system,” the five-term city councillor said in a statement.

Teoh said, by right, a local contractor should have been appointed to carry out the project.

Teoh Seang Hui.

“Why choose one from another state? Does HeiTech have better credentials and track record than our Penang contractors?” he asked.

FMT has contacted HeiTech for a response on this matter.

MBPP councillor Nicholas Theng said there were “misleading statements” arising over the smart parking project, especially on the issue of funding.

The council had not been clearly made to understand that it was a PFI project, with the state or local councils not forking out any money.

Those with issues or feedback can call Penang Smart Parking support at 03-8026-8128 or email [email protected] The app can be downloaded at psp.penang.my.